for April, 2009

April 24, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Le Cupole Trinoro 2005 Rosso, Tuscany

O2JFa3rEgmoxuaeeMYcoSCJho1_500Tasting the 2005 Le Cupole Trinoro was, as they say in the deep North of Italy, Multo Benissimissimo!

A quick google search (which tried in vain to auto-correct for “La Coupole,” one of old Hemingway’s hubs) yielded these tasting notes:

Medium ruby in color. Smooth, supple nose of dried currants and plums. Lovely, velvety mouth feel, with sweet, dark, concentrated notes of baked stone fruit and caramel. Gentle, refined tannins, with a moderate, modern finish. Became sweeter and even more caramelly over the course of two hours.

A terrific mid-grade wine, a poster child Super Tuscan. International-style and ready to drink now, but also true to its Italian roots, with plenty of structure. A lot of versatility too: this could flatter a pasta or meat dish, but it could step up and be the star as well. Easy to drink, but wine nerds will love it too.

CRS Rating: 5,500,800,950

My take: Medium to mid-sized ruby-red-indigo. Dried apricots, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry, carbon monoxide currants and figish datish plumsimmon (cross between plum and persimmon). Lovely, velvety, liquidy mouth feel, with sweet&sour, darkish grey concentrated notes of baked stones, shoelaces, down, iron railings, chewed gum, french vocabulary, paperweight, fruit and vanilla-caramel. Gentile, refined tannins, with a moderate, modern afterthought such as: Did I forget to pay my student loans again this month? Equally impressive bouquet that inspired a new Neil Diamond.

April 24, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Wine Connoisseur and the Wine Connoisseur’s Rating System


In wine there is the Connoisseur.

For the Connoisseur there is the Rating System.

Together they are: the C.R.S. (Connoisseur Rating System)

Manifesto on the C.R.S.

In defining the wine Connoisseur we must identify the Connoisseur’s basic needs:

  • Wine
  • Wine glasses
  • Wine vocabulary

We may now define the Connoisseur. The Connoisseur is a seeker of wine, the end-product of a long labor of liquid love, who is in possession of state-of-the-art drinking stemware and replete with a barrage of descriptive words, ideas, places, and metaphysics often employing a heinous juxtaposition of any and all devices.

In defining the Rating System we must understand these basic principles:

  • Color
  • Fruit
  • Minerality
  • Acidity
  • Alcohol
  • Body
  • Words, words, words

We may now define the Rating System which will be employed herein throughout: The Rating System will henceforth be referred to as the C.R.S. (Connoisseur Rating System). To accurately determine whether a wine will be rated with the CRS system, please look for these words in this order: “CRS Rating.” The CRS Rating system, or CRS Point System, otherwise known as the CRS Wine Buying Criteria, occasionally referred to as the CRS Point System and Rating Guide will employ the use of descriptors and non-descriptors, vocabulary and imperatives, imagery and metaphor with the following numerical point scale:

Wines will be rated, or scored on a scale from -350 to Infinity, where “-350” represents the score of a liquid unfit to be deemed a “wine” or even a “liquid” for that matter. A score of “Infinity” shall represent a wine of outstanding character having scored rather well in all matters of the CRS Rating system.

Descriptors shall be employed with occasional abbreviations, e.g., D.B.O. (Dense Blueberry Overtones) and G.T.T. (Graphically Textured Tannin) as well as H.O.C.F. (Hint Of Carbon Footprint).

Recap of the CRS Rating System:

  • Wines scored from: -350 to Infinity
  • Wines descriptors: Full and Abbreviated words
  • Suggestions for Drinking or Storing: O.K. (Drink Now), N.O.K (Drink Later), X.X.X. (Do Not Drink Ever)

As we continue this journey together, Wine Connoisseur-to-Wine Connoisseur I look forward to drinking, delighting, and helping you choose the wine that is right for you or for someone you may or may not know.

April 20, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echézeaux


It’s official: I’ve purchased my first case of wine! Not all at once, but in two parts. Part one was the Robert Foley wines, which provided an education in caring for glassware (see previous post) and part two arrived just a few days ago and included:

1 bottle of Jayer-Gilles Echezeaux du Dessus Grand Cru-2004
3 bottles of Vini Menhir N° 0 Negroamaro-2006
1 bottle of Woodhouse Darighe-2001
1 bottle of Tenuta di Trinoro le Cupole Toscana Rosso-2005

Damian, the wine director at Cabrini, told me not to drink the Jayer-Gilles until 2014, however I have reasoned out a fabulously reasonable excuse for drinking it now. To all those connoisseurs who feel the necessity to hold onto wine, listen up:

The year 2004 ran its cycle five years ago. This wine is five years old, therefore. Therefore, like a child, a wine of five will act similarly to a child of say 10, 11, or even 12 years of age. The child will not be driving or holding down a job at this stage. The child will certainly begin to ripen at age 10, however at age 5 the child is fairly ripe and saucy. And, you’ll often hear that a wine will “mellow with age” or will “soften with age” and I must ask, is a “mellow, soft” wine truly what the connoisseur is after? While all of this may seem utterly obtuse, and it is, I nevertheless plan to drink the wine and feel I’ve proven my point—whatever point that may or may not be.

[Suddenly, mad, like one who has just drunk of the elixir of truth]

I am nearly ravenous! Therefore a manifesto is in need of manifesting! What is the “wine connoisseur” and how shall he judge his wines?? Let us establish a radical system of rating wine; one we can all understand, all of us, and let us insure all our noses for a million dollars! Onward…

April 2, 2009 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Fooled by Foley: Why Caring For Your Glassware is Paramount


Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot

Two days ago, I uncorked a Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot from Napa Valley. To my shock and horror, the wine was not the smooth, silky, chocolaty nectar that I was anticipating—and I have come to revere this wine as a wine among wines—instead, in its place, swirling around my glass was a cantankerous, nefarious liquid, dusty and insipid with moldy carpet-like aromatics and an astringent character that might have served to disinfect all of Spanish Harlem. First, anger set in—surely I was sold bad bottles! Then, panic took over—perhaps it was my glassware, and I had ruined the $50-merlot now clustered around my kitchen sink (I had poured several bottles out into various glasses, decanted, double-decanted, dashed much of it down the drain in anger, etc, etc, etc) and was at that point confused: was the wine in fact corked or was it fine? Had my sense memory failed me? There was only one way to find out.

I had purchased six bottles from Cabrini Liquors, a retail shop situated on the corner of 181st street and Cabrini Boulevard in far-up Manhattan. The wines were shipped to me in February. The first two bottles proved to be as delectable as any sentence in The Great Gatsby. So what happened to the other bottles?

The wines lay on their side in the coolest part of my apartment—due to the lack of “wine cellar” or “wine fridge” (and I’m working on changing that). The apartment is carpeted, and I began to wonder if somehow it was all the carpet’s fault. Thinking on that I nearly tore the carpet to shreds and was prepared to curse out my landlord for not installing a temperature-controlled room in our three-room apartment. Alas!! I refrained from both tactics. After returning the wine to bottle from decanter, I stopped the bottles with rubber stoppers and sucked out any remaining air. I called Cabrini and arranged to bring the wine back on Monday evening, two days out from the whole affair.

The trip to Cabrini was a good hour-long subway ride, and in New York City the subway presents a good opportunity to catch up on reading. I brought along the last five New Yorkers. I read about the Madoff Ponzi scheme. I was angry and sympathetic twoard the people that he swindled. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to accuse someone—of something, anything…for ruining my wine! I was prepared to accuse the good people at Cabrini of trying to put one over on me—I mean, they’re practically in the Bronx!

To my surprise, the store was an unexpected playground of rare and fine wines all priced well-below market-value, or at least, New York City market value. I was greeted by Damian, Cabrini’s “wine-director.” He led me to the “office” where dozens and dozens of bottles lay recently opened for tasting (they were planning a big event and had to “familiarize” themselves with the wines). After a brief introduction I retrieved my four bottles of remaining Foley Merlot, two unopened, two vacuum packed. We poured them into four glasses and tasted.

“These wines are not corked,” said Rami, through perfectly aligned purple-stained teeth. “Very, very tight for a California Merlot,” said Damian.

And by Jove, the bastards were right. What had happened in the course of the wine’s two day sleep-over in my refrigerator? Had they corrected themselves? I was despondent. Damian explained that wine is complex, alive, and as a small production can vary greatly in terms of bottling from barrel to barrel and bottle to bottle. The wine needed to decant, he said. Well, I had decanted it, I told him, a bit defensive.

“Where do you keep your glasses,” asked Damian.

LIGHT BULB. That was it. My glasses hung upside down in my kitchen, not far from my stove. All the days and weeks of cooking—a lot of cooking for New York—all those particle aromas, wedging themselves in the microscopic pours of my glassware, ultimately impacting the wine! The merlot showed brilliantly in Cabrini’s cared-for glassware, and as we talked more about the wine, the glasses, the cooking, I started to recall feeling similarly about a lot of wine I’ve had in recent weeks—all seemed a touch on the volatile side. Well…

Wine is indeed a living, breathing creature and reacts to its environment. So, good people, sterilize those glasses and for heaven’s sake, even if they look nice, don’t hang them upside down on a rack in your kitchen. Same goes for ordering wine at a bar—if you see them storing their glasses as such—order beer.

The silver lining: Damian graciously provided me with two new bottles, to replace the ones I had… unintentionally ruined. Like the last scene in Casablanca I thought to myself…”This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

April 2, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Bordeaux Classification of 1855


While the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux helps consumers identify wines from the region that are essentially the best in Bordeaux, one thing is for certain: the classified growths of today are producing wines that are much different from those of 1855. The ranking is arguably not most accurate gauge of quality—this is not to say that the classified growths are not of superb quality, but rather, I suggest that because quality was indicative in 1855 of price, and wineries were classified according to the sales ledgers of négociants, the quality of todays classified growths should not be taken at face value. The only way to judge, is to taste.

For more information and to see the classified growths, visit:

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